Angelina Jolie Underwent Double Mastectomy And Had Her Ovaries Removed As She Lost Her Mother, Aunt, And Grandmother To Breast Cancer

September 5, 2019 10:33

There is no sure way to prevent breast cancer. But there are things you can do that might lower your risk, such as changing risk factors that are under your control.

Known risk factors for breast cancer include:

  • Aging: On average, women over 60 are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • Gender: Although nearly 2,000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer each year, breast cancer is 100 times more common in women.

Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock.com

  • Family history
  • Inherited factors
  • Obesity
  • High breast density
  • Not having children
  • Lifestyle and previous treatments

Angelina Jolie's preventive surgery

Although there are some factors we can't prevent, still there are effective ways to lower your chances of breast cancer.

For instance, hollywood film star Angelina Jolie inspired countless women when she announced she had a preventative double mastectomy and had her ovaries removed as she had lost her mother, aunt, and grandmother to the disease. The actress carried the "'faulty' gene" BRCA1 and had roughly an 87 percent risk of contracting breast cancer.

She also shared how she was told she has approximately a 50 percent risk (the actual number varies based on the individual) of developing ovarian cancer. This, in fact, was the reason why she decided to remove her ovaries as well. Jolie said:

"I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made. My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. I can tell my children that they don't need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.

Such risk-reducing surgery is one option for consideration by women who have a strong family history, which could potentially put them at increased risk.

A double mastectomy involves removing as much "at-risk" tissue as possible to reduce the risk of cancer. The procedure does not, however, guarantee complete protection against cancer, according to the NCI.

Potential complications

Moreover, as with any surgery, prophylactic mastectomy has potential complications, including:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Pain
  • Disappointment about changes to your appearance

Aquarius Studio / Shutterstock.com

Yet, there are other options for early detection and risk reduction, including breast cancer screening, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising most days of the week, limiting alcohol use and avoiding hormone therapy during menopause. Keep yourself and your family safe!

This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for any harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.